Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

In Md., Biden says $41m will help fix U.S. rape kit backlog

Vice President Joe Biden listens at left as Argie Majors, second from left, biology section manager at the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory, explains the contents of a sample rape kit, Monday, March 16, 2015, in Pikesville, Md. From left are, Biden, Majors are Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. The visit was to highlight $41 million in new federal funding intended to help law enforcement agencies across the country test hundreds of thousands of backlogged rape kits. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Vice President Joe Biden listens at left as Argie Majors, second from left, biology section manager at the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory, explains the contents of a sample rape kit, Monday, March 16, 2015, in Pikesville, Md. From left are, Biden, Majors are Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. The visit was to highlight $41 million in new federal funding intended to help law enforcement agencies across the country test hundreds of thousands of backlogged rape kits. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Vice President Joe Biden says $41 million in federal funds approved by Congress will help clear rape kit backlogs across the country and solve crimes.

Biden toured a Maryland State Police forensic laboratory in Pikesville on Monday and addressed the importance of clearing the backlog of an estimated 400,000 rape kits that remain untested throughout the U.S.

Biden said the federal funding will help local and state law enforcement agencies test the kits and train personnel.

“If we are able to test these rape kits, more crimes will be solved, more crimes will be prevented, and more women will be given back their lives,” Biden said during a press conference. A rape kit, which includes swabs, tubes and glass slides, is used to collect and preserve any bodily fluids, fibers or forensic evidence left by a perpetrator.

Vice President Joe Biden, center, flanked by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., right, speaks during their tour of the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory with director Dan Katz, back right, on Monday in Pikesville. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


Vice President Joe Biden, center, flanked by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., left, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., right, speaks during their tour of the Maryland State Police Forensic Science Laboratory with director Dan Katz, back right, on Monday in Pikesville. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, all of Maryland, joined Biden at the laboratory.

Biden said that “testing rape kits should be an absolute priority for the United States of America: It works, it matters, it brings closure, it brings justice and that’s why we’re here.”

The funding will be administered through grants, which law enforcement agencies can apply for. In addition to the $41 million, the federal 2016 budget proposes $20 million for research to identify the most efficient and effective strategies for reducing backlogs.

Mikulski, who recently announced that she will not seek reelection in 2016, called the funding “an absolute breakthrough.”

“We want to make sure no victim is doubly victimized: by a violent attack from a predator, then by a system that’s not equipped or willing to deal with the evidence,” Mikulski said. “Behind every kit there’s a victim, and behind every victim there’s a predator. When you get a predator off the street, you not only do justice to the victim but prevent other victims from occurring.”